February 21, 2019
Scott Sullivan prepared this biography in September 2018 for his 50th reunion with Loyola of Rome classmates. Joan Sullivan thinks it captures her husband’s spirit perfectly.
I returned to John Carroll University in Cleveland after our year in Rome. I suspect like many of you, my university seemed small and parochial. I could not wait to finish my senior year. I shared an apartment with Tom Pokorni and two others (It was hard to get Tom to do the dishes!). I decided to get a graduate degree in art history and teach (Thank you, Michael Fink!). I was accepted at Case Western Reserve University. There was one small problem – the Vietnam War and the draft. Draft deferments for graduate school had ended and the lottery was scheduled for the summer of 1969. Everyone was trying to get into the Army Reserves or National Guard. I was lucky (No, not a bone spur…). I had played the trumpet for 12 years. My hometown of Rochester, New York, had an Army Reserve Band (The Eastman School is there). I got in. I spent half of 1969-70 in Basic Training and Advanced Training in Fort Dix, New Jersey. I then did six years in the Reserves. I was married in August of 1970. (My wife Joan was also from Rochester and had a career as a retail buyer for Halle’s, Marshall Field’s, Sanger-Harris, and other Federated department stores. She traveled to India and Hong Kong doing product development –but enough about her!!)
In August, 1970 we moved from Rochester back to Cleveland and I began graduate school. I received an MA in 1972 and began working on a PhD. In 1974 we spent five months in The Netherlands, Germany, and London researching 17th century Dutch still life. In the fall of 1975 I began as an Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of North Texas in Denton. We lived in Dallas and I commuted about 30 miles north so Joan could work in a downtown department store. I taught Renaissance and Baroque art history courses and continued working on my dissertation I received my PhD in 1978 and taught at UNT until 1996. By that time I was fairly well published, a full professor, and had served as Chair, Associate Dean, and Acting Dean of the School of Art. But I was restless. Male menopause kicked in. But instead of an extra-marital affair, I accepted a job as Dean of the College of Fine and Professional Arts at Kent State University in 1996. This was a huge leap for me. My college had 6,000 students and 250 full-time faculty organized in eleven schools or departments including arts, communication, and health science disciplines. Just ask me about Speech Pathology and Audiology, or Library Science!
Permit me a digression on the Kent State shootings that I’m sure you remember. Four students were shot on May 4, 1970 by the Ohio National Guard in one of the most significant national tragedies of our generation. This event and its aftermath are ingrained into the fabric of the university. Classes are dismissed for a May 4th commemoration each year. There is silent march around the campus, an all-night vigil, and the ringing of the Victory Bell the next morning in memory of those killed and injured. While at Kent I parked in the lot where the four students were killed. Raised granite markers inscribed with the fallen students’ names were erected on the exact spots in 1999. I worked in Taylor Hall that sits on the hill the Guard shot from. I entered the building each morning walking past a large steel sculpture with a bullet hole thru it. Behind Taylor Hall is a memorial and hill where 58,000 daffodils are planted in remembrance of those Americans killed in Vietnam. If you are ever near Kent State, go and see the memorial and the Visitors’ Center in Taylor Hall. It is a moving experience.
My wife and I lived in lovely small town called Hudson, near Kent. While there we were a host family for two young Muslim women from Jordan and Lebanon. They were high school students in the nearby Western Reserve Academy. We had great experiences with them. But Northeast Ohio had long winters and a rather stagnant economy. We thought we were “coming home” with a move back to the northeast, but we missed the sunshine, thriving economy, and optimistic spirit in Texas. After four years at Kent, I accepted a job as Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. In 2000 TCU was evolving from a rather insular modest-sized institution to a more nationally recognized university. Although loosely affiliated with the Disciples of Christ, TCU is not an overly “Christian” university ala Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University or even Baylor University. Think more SMU. The predominant religion of the students is Roman Catholic. In my time at TCU, the stature of its academic programs grew rapidly, the enrollment and faculty nearly doubled, and the campus physical plant exploded. Athletics put TCU on the map (…said with mixed emotions) with marque athletes like LaDainian Tomlinson and Andy Dalton, a Rose Bowl win in 2011, and a move to the Big 12 Conference in 2012. It all helped the institution’s reputation, enrollment, and alumni donations.
I retired in 2016. It took some mental adjustment, but retirement enabled me to put my career in perspective and take some satisfaction in the 40 years of work I had done to advance education in the arts. And to think it all started in Michael Fink’s courses in Rome! I have returned to doing some research and writing in art history that I had abandoned as an administrator. I play golf, garden, and we have a vacation home in Santa Fe. I serve on a couple of arts boards and I am active in Rotary, Sister Cities, and the TCU Retirees’ Association. We went to the Galapagos Islands in March. Life is good.
From Joan: Scott’s junior year in Italy on the Loyola of Rome program changed his life and led to his love of art history. The program was a focus of his charitable giving. If you wish to make a contribution in his memory, this program would mean a lot to him. Mail checks to Loyola University Chicago, Scott Sullivan Memorial Fund – JFRC, 820 Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611. Online: luc.edu/give. Click to view “schools, programs, and campaigns to support,” then scroll down to the last box to click “Other.” Continue and type, “Scott Sullivan Memorial Fund – JFRC” in the box on the main page.